As I’m sure Nash and Clave are all too aware, this hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the Twins, especially their pitchers. Despite playing in a pitcher-friendly environment, the Twins have one of the worst pitching rotations in the league. Even worse is that the Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham led offense has been at worst average and in some cases, very good.
But I’m not here to beat up on the Twins. Actually, I’m breaking away from the norm a little bit, as an individual player-profile wouldn’t normally do much good at this time of the year. But right here, right now, Scott Diamond is a player that deserves a bit of a breakdown, so let’s do it. I do like finishing on a good note, so let’s start with some of Diamond’s drawbacks.
Diamond allows a lot of hits and doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters. There’s no reason to beat around the bush there. He’s currently at 128 innings pitched and has surrendered 135 hits while striking out only 70 batters.
The problem with allowing hits is that there are some days when one or two more than normal will get through the infield. With men on base, an extra hit or two really stands out. In a roto league, things will even out but in head-to-head, if he has a start like that, you might have a hard time with ERA and WHIP in those weeks.
Now, Diamond doesn’t walk a lot of hitters (which we’ll get to), but if he’s going to be on a head-to-head staff, I would say that it needs to be a pretty deep one.
Those bad starts that you need to be careful of just haven’t really happened. He’s started 19 games in 2011, 14 of them have been quality starts. Just to restate, to get a quality start, you need to have gone at least six innings while allowing no more than three unearned runs. A quality start is well, quality. The bad outings just haven’t happened all that often. More importantly, the good ones haven’t occurred against bottom feeders. Let’s take a look at how he’s done against playoff contenders, which we’ll define as teams currently at .500 or better.
|May 8||Los Angeles Angels||7||4||1||0||6||W|
|May 23||Chicago White Sox||6||9||1||2||4||L|
|June 19||Pittsburgh Pirates||5.1||8||2||4||1||L|
|June 24||Cincinnati Reds||8||8||1||3||7||W|
|July 5||Detroit Tigers||7||5||1||2||4||ND|
|July 16||Baltimore Orioles||6||9||1||5||3||W|
|August 1||Chicago White Sox||7.1||8||0||3||3||L|
|August 12||Tampa Bay Rays||7||8||2||3||6||ND|
The game against the Orioles looks bad, but the Twins won it 19-7, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Not only is it hard for pitchers to maintain their adrenaline in games like this, but pitchers will often challenge the strike zone a little more when they’re way up. All of those runs were scored after the seven-run first inning. Let’s break the numbers down though.
A 3-3 record is not bad, especially when you consider that his team is well below .500 and all of these teams are at least at that mark. In 53.2 innings pitched, the hits, walks, and runs add up to a respectable 1.27 WHIP and 3.72 ERA, and who knows where we’d be if the Baltimore game didn’t get out of hand so early. The point is that you don’t need to worry about starting Diamond vs. better teams.
See, the hits are bad but if you’re not walking hitters, your WHIP is going to stay low. Chances are, your ERA will as well, as if the hits are singles, it takes 2-3 an inning to score a run if there are no walks in play. This explains why we’re looking at a pitcher with an overall 2.95 ERA and a 1.195 WHIP this late in August. I want to put those numbers into some perspective for you. I play in four leagues that total 50 teams. Of those 50 teams, one has an ERA lower than Diamond’s 2.95, while only seven have a WHIP better than his 1.195 mark.
Even though he’s playing for a bad team, Diamond has a fine record. He’s 10-5 on the season, and missed the entire month of April. The May 8 start cited above against the Angels was his first of the year.
Diamond is a very good pitcher who you should jump on. I want to see the pitching staff that he wouldn’t make better. More importantly, I want to see the offense of that team, because if it’s got the kind of rotation that Diamond wouldn’t boost, I doubt the offense is anything to write home about.
I did say that Diamond’s lack of Ks and high contact rate makes him a bit of a risk in head-to-head leagues, that is if you have a small rotation. The only thing there is that having a small rotation in a head-to-head league is generally not a very effective strategy, unless you have stats like BBI, or total walks and hits (not to be confused with WHIP).
The fact of the matter is that Diamond doesn’t walk guys. He does pitch to contact, but a lot of ground balls come off the bats of those hitters. That opens up the possibility of a double play, which is a nice way to get out of any jam.
Obviously, a lot of people don’t agree with me. He’s owned in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues, which disqualifies him from Dixon’s Picks eligibility, but not by much. Clave, Nash, and I will figure out where we project him in 2013, but the rest of 2012 isn’t bad. It’s a little tricky to project starts more than a month in advance, but if he starts every fifth Twins game from here on out, look at Diamond’s remaining slate of games:
at Texas Rangers, vs. Seattle Mariners, at Kansas City Royals, vs. Cleveland Indians, vs. Kansas City Royals, at Cleveland Indians, vs. New York Yankees, vs. Detroit Tigers.
I wouldn’t bet against about five more wins for the rest of the way. Just to clarify, that would be a 15-win season for a person on a bad team who wasn’t even in the show for the first month of the year. We’ve seen that he can handle the good teams, so while the Rangers, Yankees, and Tigers won’t make you feel comfortable, they shouldn’t terrify you.
But in between those outings, we’re looking at five starts against teams that are going nowhere. So, who knows what kind of lineups are going to be thrown at Diamond, especially after September 1, which every start after the Mariners game will be.
The overall outlook for Diamond is quite good. You can deal with the lack of Ks with the fact that Diamond is strong in nearly every other category.